Preeti Hoon
Jun 20, 2024

How Imagesbazaar is preparing for an AI-driven world

Sandeep Maheshwari, the pioneer of stock images and concept shoots in India shares company's transformational journey and gives a lowdown on how his company is getting future-ready.


In early 2000s, the demand for stock images and concept shoots was picking up in India when Sandeep Maheshwari identified the market gap and an opportunity to launch Imagesbazaar.

Almost 20 years later, the stock photography company is still keeping up with the trends and technology, while aiming to register more than 15% growth in the financial year 2025, a steady number it has been achieving since 2006.

According to a market report by Allied Market Research, the global stock images market was valued at $6.4 billion in 2022 and it is set to touch $12.2 billion by 2032, growing at a CAGR of 6.8% from 2023 to 2032.

Riding on this positive sentiment, Imagesbazaar has grown in revenue by 4000% in the last four years, turning a testimony to the mammoth size of the category.

“We are strategizing to increase our current market share and capitalise on emerging technological advancements, like AI and ML, to enhance our service offerings. Our goal is to identify opportunities for growth and innovation in our industry's ever-changing landscape”, Sandeep Maheshwari, CEO, Imagezbazaar Group, tells Campaign India.

The transformation

Imagesbazaar was born at a time when Maheshwari took an impromptu decision to provide suitable images to an advertising agency and fill the demand-supply gap of stock images. Today, when content or creatives can be procured with the blink of an eye, it won’t be wrong to say that the company’s inception history is never going to repeat itself.

However, its appetite to adapt to the evolving technological changes does seem to be on repeat mode and rightly so. “Previously reliant on manual methods, our workflow has undergone a significant transformation since adopting artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. This transition has ushered in a new era of efficiency, in which previously complex tasks are now streamlined and executed with precision”, Maheshwari shared.

Creative business models have been on their toes since the time AI has stormed its way into their work peripheries and disrupted established mechanisms. Nothing different occurred to Imagesbazaar.

“The integration of AI technology has transformed our approach to image search and editing. We have seamlessly integrated AI technology into our operations to improve efficiency and output quality. We've been able to streamline our image search processes and improve editing capabilities by leveraging AI-powered solutions, resulting in smoother workflows and consistently higher image quality”, he added.

The tech bet

As AI takes centerstage in the scheme of creative affairs, businesses are now focussing on the advantages it can bring to their systems and adopting new technologies for seamless growth.

While it is no denying that AI, in itself, is sufficient to wipe out traditional operations, especially of businesses like that of stock images, Imagesbazaar is making an effort to turn the tables to empower its functioning and witnessing positive impact.

“With AI-powered image search algorithms, the work process has become more intuitive and accurate. AI-powered editing tools have improved the quality of our work, allowing us to achieve exceptional results while saving significant time. As a result, our team can now concentrate on the creative aspects of our work, knowing that AI technology is increasing our productivity and improving the overall quality of our output”, Maheshwari informed.

The company is now exploring ways to leverage AI for its products and services. “We are actively exploring ways to incorporate AI-generated images into our portfolio. This strategic shift is motivated by our desire to adapt to the changing demands of the market landscape.”

“We hope to broaden our service offering and better meet our clients' diverse needs by combining the human touch of our traditional approach with the efficiency and innovation of AI”, he added.

Capitalizing on challenges

Stock photography has the ability to differentiate itself from AI-generated images by creating unique and conceptual visuals to cater to specific industry needs. This aspect makes it unique as it can provide emotional depth and authenticity that AI-generated images often lack.

Elaborating on similar approach, Maheshwari said, “Despite the widespread availability of online images, our business operations are largely unaffected. Our distinct approach focuses on developing concepts rather than simply providing images. This philosophy ensures that our offerings are not only visually appealing, but also deeply relevant to our clients' needs and aspirations.”

The industry leader also shared that social media boom has presented the company with both challenges and opportunities and it has managed to manoeuvre itself by defining priorities and playing by the strengths.

“One of the most significant challenges we've encountered is the growing demand for authentic and unique visual content. With the proliferation of user-generated content on social media platforms, there is an increased demand for stock images that stand out and provide a unique perspective.”

“In response to this demand, we shifted our focus to creating concepts rather than images. This strategic shift enables us to address the challenge of providing distinctive visuals in a crowded market. By prioritising the creation of concepts for our images, we ensure that our offerings resonate with audiences looking for originality and authenticity in visual content”, he added.

What’s working out

AI technology is transforming the stock photography industry by improving image search capabilities and editing workflows. While the change in landscape with the proliferation of free or low-cost image repositories is posing new challenges to traditional models, it has also highlighted the importance of licensed images.

“We've noticed a preference among our clients for licensed images that provide both quality and legal assurance, eliminating the inconvenience associated with unauthorised use.”

“Navigating these changes requires us to constantly innovate and adapt our strategies. By remaining true to our commitment to quality and conceptualization, we not only overcome the challenges of the changing market but also emerge as a trusted partner for businesses looking for impactful visual content”, Maheshwari said.

“This AI integration streamlines workflows, increasing efficiency and elevating image quality to new heights. With AI's assistance, stock photographers can concentrate more on their creative process while benefiting from improved search algorithms and advanced editing tools, ultimately enhancing their ability to deliver impactful visuals to clients”, he shared.

Playing solo

In a modern era where mostly businesses are built with a clear purpose to be taken over, Maheshwari is not miffed by the commercial gains and is holding on to the original values that helped him take the plunge to become an entrepreneur.

“One of the primary reasons to stay independent is the strong emotional connection I've developed with the company over time. Watching it grow from humble beginnings to a thriving business has instilled in me a deep attachment. This emotional investment serves as the driving force behind my steadfast dedication to its continued success and growth”, Maheshwari shared.

Sandeep Maheshwari

“The decision to maintain autonomy is based on my firm belief in my ability to navigate the complexities of the market landscape, innovate in response to changing trends, and guide the company toward its long-term goals.”

The seasoned entrepreneur also thinks that his decisions have helped him evolve as a person and professional.

“Two decades later, I can look back on this decision without regret. While the entrepreneurial journey has had its share of challenges and setbacks, each obstacle has served as a catalyst for personal and professional development. The satisfaction from overcoming adversity and seeing tangible progress in the business is immeasurable. As I look back on the milestones I have accomplished, I am filled with a profound sense of pride and gratitude.

Way forward

As Imagesbazaar evolves through the adoption of new-tech, it is now considering new possibilities and offerings that can make it a future-ready company while setting its eyes to grab a substantial market share.

“We are currently evaluating several new features that will set us apart from our competitors. We are actively considering a new tool for on-demand AI-generated images and possibility of using AI technology to enhance our current offerings. While our dedication to creativity and originality remains unwavering in the world of stock photography”, Maheshwari said.

“By prioritising conceptual development, we ensure that our offerings are unique and tailored to our clients' specific needs. Furthermore, we are constantly innovating to stay ahead of market trends, prioritising quality in all images, and working closely with our clients to understand and fulfil their own unique visions.”

“Our strategic initiatives are focused on expanding our image library, improving the customer experience, and broadening our global reach. We hope to increase our market share and set new industry standards by leveraging innovative technologies."

Campaign India

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